March 6, 2021

Canaries, a key element in the recycling cycle – La Provincia

One of the great hallmarks of canaries is the passion they feel for their land. This admiration translates into a deep respect for the environment, reason why they spare no effort when implementing any action that favors the environmental welfare of the islands. In this aspect, the responsible consumption of natural resources acquires a capital importance and consequently recycling has become one of the main tools among the Canarian society to contribute so that its natural wealth is not threatened.

The confidence deposited by the Canaries in the benefits of recycling and their commitment to the circular economy is reflected in the latest recycling data, specifically, the waste deposited in the yellow container – plastic containers, cans and briks – and those that go to Blue container – cardboard and paper containers. And, in the Canary Islands, a total of 83,717 tons of waste of this type were recycled during 2018, specifically, 7.4% more than the previous year.

These figures show that Canarian citizens have made recycling a daily habit and that they trust it as a tool to care for the environment in which they live. In fact, their conviction is such that there are already several exercises that lead the ranking of the communities that have experienced the greatest evolution in terms of the contribution of their citizens to the yellow container. Ecoembes, the non-profit environmental organization that coordinates the recycling of packaging in Spain, recently reported that the Canary Islands reached last year an increase of 15.8% regarding the amount of waste deposited in this container in 2017, standing above the national average, this being 12.3%.

Thus, this context positions Canaries as an example in terms of recycling and, in turn, puts into value the circular economy model that advocates providing the packaging with a second life to banish the old "throwaway" system that requires the involvement of the entire Canarian society: citizens , public administrations and companies. In this regard, Alberto Fernández, manager of Ecoembes in the Canary Islands, highlights the valuable contribution of each one of the Canarian actors because "they are all very committed to the care and conservation of the enormous natural wealth of this land." Thanks to their commitment and responsibility, it has been evolving effectively towards the model of circular economy, a system that defends the optimization of materials and waste, thus lengthening its useful life ".

A model based on environmental education of canaries

Precisely it is the citizen who sets this cycle in motion with his gesture of separating and depositing the waste in the appropriate containers, habit that fortunately is internalized in the day to day of the canaries. This high degree of involvement is possible thanks to the work of the public administration, aware that education is a key element, has launched different awareness campaigns in collaboration with other entities that make use of pedagogy as the main tool. In this sense, during 2018 there have been several projects that have been promoted from different town halls, as has been the case with the campaign developed on the occasion of the carnival from the municipality of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the regional campaign of the Government of the Canary Islands or those promoted by the municipality of Tegueste, Garachico or by the Cabildo of La Gomera.

To all these actions of awareness by the public administration, must be added the actions that from different agencies have been carried out to, together, contribute to increase the environmental commitment of the Canarian society through recycling. With this intention, different institutions have designed initiatives aimed at reaching multiple Canarian collectives and transmit in an appropriate and specific way the message about the importance of recycling. A clear example of this type of collaboration is the agreement between the Global Nature Foundation and Ecoembes to bring biodiversity, recycling and the circular economy closer to educational centers, or the alliance with the Terramare Association. In this regard, the "Circular Economy: Sustainability as Opportunity" conference, organized jointly by Ecoembes and the Canarian Federation of Municipalities (FECAM), was also aimed at involving local authorities and other Canarian economic and social actors in the transition to a circular economy.

To these are added a wide list of projects that, with the same objective of raising awareness, have been developed in the educational field since the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of La Laguna, in addition to the participation of Ecoembes hand in hand with other organizations such as the Santa Cruz Sustainable Foundation, Canaries Foundation Recycles, the Provincial Confederation of Employers of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (CEOE), the Sustainable and Green Canary Association, the Chamber of Commerce of Tenerife, the Hotel and Hotel Association of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro (ASHOTEL) or the agreement with the Consumers Union of Las Palmas (UCONPA) aimed at promoting awareness of recycling in all the levels and social and professional scopes.

A triple alliance to advance towards the circular economy

The objective of these campaigns has been met successfully as the Canaries continue to take steps forward in recycling and to accompany them in this evolution, the points of waste collection have intensified. It is at this moment, the second stage of the cycle of recycling, when they intervene in a direct way the municipalities that are responsible for distributing the containers so that citizens can deposit the containers in them. Currently there are about 19,800 yellow and blue containers installed throughout the Canary Islands.

In addition, recycling has become a habit among Canarians not only inside their homes, but also outside of it, especially in places where they spend much of their time or where they enjoy leisure time. For this reason, during the last few years, the number of waste collection points has increased in areas with a high concentration of people, in order to make the canaries more accessible and more accessible. Thus, in 2018 more than 300 new points have been installed in shopping malls and supermarkets, health centers and hospitals, as well as in football stadiums such as CD Tenerife and UD Las Palmas. Likewise, of these new points, a large part have been located in areas prone to receiving tourist visits, since the tourism It is one of the key sectors of the Canarian economy. In line with this, the number of yellow and blue containers has also increased in hotels and airports in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

Beyond the installation of containers, the municipalities are also responsible for designing the waste collection routes and transport them to one of the five selection plants located in the Canary archipelago, where they are classified according to materials by those that are composed to later transfer them to the recycling companies, which turn them into new raw material with which new products are manufactured, thus starting again, the whole process.

It is at this point, and to close the circle of circular economy, when the role of companies takes center stage. The more than 12,000 companies that are part of Ecoembes, are those that through the Green Point finance the process of recycling the containers they put on the market, thus fulfilling their environmental responsibility. Likewise, this business commitment goes beyond recycling and has led to the development of different techniques of ecodesign, all aimed at promoting the improvement of packaging, so that they are more efficient in their functions and more sustainable from the environmental point of view. Thanks to this evolution, in recent years more than 500,000 tons of raw material destined for the manufacture of packaging have been saved.

In short, canaries are playing a good role in the recycling cycle. There is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the goal of allowing the Canarian society to become a 100% recycling company but the fact of having recycled more than 83,000 tons of domestic packaging in 2018 suggests that the current circular economy model contributes to the canaries will achieve it.

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